It’s easy to be overloaded while towing a caravan. Weighing your caravan and vehicle is the only way to know whether you are within the weight limits of both.
What’s the big deal about weight limits?
Being over the weight limits of your vehicle and/or your caravan puts your safety and the safety of other road users at risk, voids your insurance and will potentially see you facing fines or off the road until you can rectify the problem. A caravan and tow vehicle have towing safety systems that are all rated to a limited weight capacity. This information is stamped on the VIN plate of the caravan and the plate of the vehicle (sometimes in the driver’s door frame). Exceeding the weight limits causes excess strain on towing safety systems and the brakes which can lead to poor handling and ultimately to failure.
A caravan weight check is recommended:
- If you are purchasing a new caravan – it is ideal to weigh the caravan before purchase as the plated weight can vary significantly from the actual weight once the van is finished and fitted with accessories.
- Before you load your caravan, it is ideal to obtain a tare (empty) weight. This will let you know how much you can carry and remain within the limits of the caravan and vehicle.
- When the caravan and vehicle is fully loaded with all passengers and gear – water tanks full, gas bottles attached and any extras that you are planning to carry like bikes etc.
- If, since your last weight check you have added accessories, like additional water tanks, an air-conditioner, additional batteries, an awning etc. Over time these extras can easily place you over your legal weight limits.
How to weigh a caravan:
- Drive the entire rig onto the weighbridge. Weigh the fully loaded vehicle and caravan (including all passengers, gear, food, full tanks of fuel, water etc). This is the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) and should be less than the maximum GCM of your vehicle.
- Weigh the caravan while still connected to the vehicle by driving the vehicle off the weighbridge. This gives you the weight on the caravan axles. Check that the weight is less than the plated Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) of your van. The GCM of your rig (from step 1) less the weight on the trailer axles (step 2) gives you the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). This weight should be less than your vehicles plated GVM.
- Lower the jockey wheel and fully uncouple from the vehicle so that no weight of the van is on the vehicle. Check that the weight is below the caravan’s plated ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass).
The last step is to ensure that the caravan ball weight is within its limit (ususally specified on the caravan VIN plate). To check this take your weight from step 3 less the weight from step 2.
At the RV Service Centre we offer a service to weigh your caravan and vehicle and make sure that it is all within specifications. If your caravan is over the legal weight limits then there are a few things that we can do to help to get your caravan and vehicle compliant. It may be as simple as changing the distribution of the load within the caravan or between the caravan and vehicle. The next step would be to look at an ATM upgrade for the caravan.
To book in a caravan weight check or for advice and assistance with getting your rig within its weight limits, give us a call at the RV Service Centre.